Journal of Intercultural Communication, issue 2, 1999

Hilde Roald

Intercultural Communication, the Print Medium and the Ideal of Two-way Symmetry in Interaction

The Norwegian authorities emphasises to-way symmetric communication as an overall ideal to create a good relationship and communication with the public. Based on the report «Communication in Intercultural Encounters: The shaping of school-home co-operation» (Roald 1998) the paper focuses on the Norwegian authorities' common use of print information to the public as a basic tool to achieve these goals.

The paper investigates how print information may influence the capacity of certain first generation immigrant groups within the intercultural audience which the authorities specifically want to reach in order to make them become communicative and participating. In this respect the paper questions options and limitations as regards written information in intercultural communication in cases where there might be cultural distance and/or low reading capability or, in other cases, dissimilar practises related to print information.

The paper discusses that much understanding and interpretation of the text in the print media is partly based on tacit cultural knowledge inherent in the text. This is a knowledge that both interacting parties must share if the medium is to function as an effective intermediary and cultural door opener for people of a variety of cultural backgrounds. Also, to function as a real intermediary the authorities need pay attention to specific needs in the audience as well as the audience having the capacity to master print information as a genre within the large group of print medias. In relation to to.way symmetric communication the paper explores the concept "communication middle region" (Meyrowitz 1985) as a possible contribution to see alternatives to traditional ways and modes in co-operative strategies.

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